It is Time to Expose the Sanctimonious Ben Santer to the New Generation of Skeptics.


Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

I will not apologize for my outrage at being lectured to about my moral obligations concerning climate change from the likes of Benjamin Santer, from his position at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Ironically, and sadly, he is right that we need to address climate change, but for the wrong reason. We need to address the false science about climate change and global warming he was part of creating and perpetuating almost from the start. We need to address and stop the use of science for a political agenda, as his latest pontificating illustrates.  

The arrogance of his remarks in light of his history makes them especially egregious. It is worse when he makes them from his federal taxpayer-funded position. He is entitled to his opinions on climate, and I can take issue with them, but he does what I believe he has done throughout his professional career and allowed his political views to color and distort his science. He was not alone, as the Groupthink of the entire crowd at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) demonstrated in the leaked emails.   Worse, he was a major player in what I call the greatest deception in history. Here is a comment from his latest arrogant sermon produced in an essay by  Eric Worrall titled, “Ben Santer: We Need Understanding, Not Physical walls, to Address Climate Change.

“Today, we are told, Americans need a wall on our southern border. We are told that we need the wall to keep us safe from rapists and terrorists; from those who are not like us, who speak differently, or do not look like we do.”

No, that is not what we are told. It is true that they say the wall is to protect American citizens from rapists and terrorists; of course, they are criminals trying to enter illegally, and you either lock them up or lock them out. It is not true that the walls are designed to block “those who are not like us, who speak differently, or do not look like we do.” Even Trump says all are welcome if they enter legally.

Disclaimer: Most of the rest of the material appeared in an earlier article posted on my website in 2011. I have added and modified the original to strengthen and clarify the argument.

Early Signs of CRU/IPCC Corruption and Cover-up

Recently, over 5000 more leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), labeled Climategate 2, provided clarity of what was going on. They add flesh to the skeleton of corrupted climate science identified in 1000 leaked emails of Climategate 1. They show why and how it was achieved, and intelligent people became so blinded by what Michael Mann called “the cause.” Early signs of what was going on were quickly covered up with a masterful PR strategy.

Many can’t believe a small group of scientists achieved such a massive deception. Edward Wegman in his report to the Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Committee identified, through social network analysis,

“43 individuals all of whom have close ties to Dr. Mann.”

He also anticipates the problems with peer-review.

“One of the interesting questions associated with the ‘hockey stick controversy’ are the relationships among the authors and consequently how confident one can be in the peer review process.”  

Wegman’s primary recommendation identified another way they achieved it.

It is especially the case that authors of policy-related documents like the IPCC report, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, should not be the same people as those that constructed the academic papers.

Maurice Strong chose the UN specifically the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to control bureaucracies within every national government and away from legislative oversight. Those bureaucracies directed research funding to one side of the debate and appointed people to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The research was limited by defining climate change as only human-caused changes, which predetermined the outcome. The political objective became enshrined through the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), particularly Agenda 21, introduced at the 1992 Rio Conference organized and chaired by Strong.

Basing Agenda 21 on climate and the environment gave them the moral high ground, which they used to control and centralize power. Vaclav Klaus identified this in his book “Blue Planet in Green Shackles” when he wrote,

“Today’s debate about global warming is essentially a debate about freedom. The environmentalists would like to mastermind each and every possible (and impossible) aspect of our lives.”

It is likely that Agenda 21 is “the cause” discussed in the leaked emails.

“I can’t overstate the HUGE amount of political interest in the project as a message that the Government can give on climate change to help them tell their story. They want the story to be a very strong one and don’t want to be made to look foolish.”

Peter Thorne sensed what was happening and issued a warning.

I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.”

Overall attitude given by the comments and actions suggests the end justifies the means. Apparently, the demonstrated ability to protect scientists who acted rashly for the cause emboldened them.

The first action that exposed the modus operandi occurred with the 1995 second IPCC Report. Benjamin Santer is a CRU graduate. Tom Wigley supervised his Ph.D. Wigley replaced Hubert Lamb as Director of the CRU, but Lamb realized his mistake as he explained in his autobiography “Through all the Changing Scenes of Life: A Meteorologists Tale” how a major grant from the Rockefeller Foundation came to grief because of,  

“…an understandable difference of scientific judgment between me and the scientist, Dr. Tom Wigley, whom we have appointed to take charge of the research.”

When you read the leaked emails, you learn that Wigley became the “go-to” person in disputes, the godfather.  

Santer’s thesis titled, Regional Validation of General Circulation Models” used three top computer models in an attempt to recreate North Atlantic conditions – a form of validation.  Apparently, the region was chosen because, although the data was still inadequate, it provided the best available. The models failed to recreate known general pressure patterns. Instead, they created massive pressure systems that don’t exist in reality. In short, Santer knew better than most the severe limitations and inabilities of the models to recreate reality.

He completed the thesis in 1987 and a few years later was appointed the convening Lead-author of Chapter 8 of the 1995 IPCC Report titled “Detection of Climate Change and Attribution of Causes.” In that position, Santer created the first clear example of the IPCC manipulation of science for a political agenda. He used his position to establish the headline that humans were a factor in global warming by altering the meaning of what was agreed by the committee as a whole at the draft meeting in Madrid.  

Agreed comments

1. “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.”

2. “While some of the pattern-base discussed here have claimed detection of a significant climate change, no study to date has positively attributed all or part of climate change observed to man-made causes.”

3. “Any claims of positive detection and attribution of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced.”

4. “While none of these studies has specifically considered the attribution issue, they often draw some attribution conclusions, for which there is little justification.”

Santer’s replacements

1. “There is evidence of an emerging pattern of climate response to forcing by greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols … from the geographical, seasonal and vertical patterns of temperature change … These results point toward a human influence on global climate.”

2. “The body of statistical evidence in chapter 8, when examined in the context of our physical understanding of the climate system, now points to a discernible human influence on the global climate.”

As Avery and Singer noted in 2006,

“Santer single-handedly reversed the ‘climate science’ of the whole IPCC report and with it the global warming political process! The ‘discernible human influence’ supposedly revealed by the IPCC has been cited thousands of times since in media around the world and has been the ‘stopper’ in millions of debates among nonscientists.”

At the time, the exposure showed a quick cover-up was necessary. On July 4, 1996, the apparently compliant journal Nature published, “A Search for Human Influences on the Thermal Structure of the Atmosphere” with a familiar list of authors – Santer, Wigley, Jones, Mitchell, Oort and Stouffer. It provided observational evidence that proved the models were accurate. A graph is worth a thousand words as Mann’s “hockey stick’ showed and so it was with Santer’s “discernible human influence.” John Daly recreated Santer et al.’s graph (Figure 1) of the upward temperature trend in the Upper Atmosphere.

Figure 1

Then Daly produced a graph of the wider data set in Figure 2 and explained,

“we see that the warming indicated in Santer’s version is just a product of the dates chosen” (Daly’s bold).

Figure 2

Here they are juxtaposed for easier comparison (Figure 3).

Figure 3

Errors were spotted quickly, but Nature didn’t publish the rebuttals until 5 months later (12 Dec 1996), one identified the cherry-picking, the other a natural explanation for the pattern. However, by that time the PR cover-up was underway.

On July 25, 1996, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) sent a letter of defense to Santer. The letter appears to be evidence of CRU influence and a PR masterpiece. It said there were two questions, the science, and what society must do about scientific findings and the debate they engendered. Science should only be debated in “peer-reviewed scientific publications – not the media.” This was the strategy confirmed in a leaked email from Michael Mann.

“This was the danger of always criticizing (sic) the skeptics for not publishing in the “peer-reviewed literature.”

Then AMS wrote,

What is important scientific information and how it is interpreted in the policy debates is an important part of our jobs.” “That is, after all, the very reasons for the mix of science and policy in the IPCC.”

No, it isn’t. The mix is the very heart of the problem as Santer shows.  Daly correctly called this “Scientism.”

Santer reportedly later admitted, “he deleted sections of the IPCC chapter which stated that humans were not responsible for climate change.” He did not admit the changes at the time and achieved the objective of getting the discernible human influence message on the world stage. He was protected by the group that demonstrated its control over peer review, journals, professional societies, and the media, until the emails leaked in November 2009 and reinforced in 2011. Here is Mosher and Fuller’s summary in their book about the emails

  • Actively worked to evade (Steve) Mcintyre’s Freedom of Information requests, deleting emails, documents, and even climate data
  • Tried to corrupt the peer-review principles that are the mainstay of modern science, reviewing each other’s’ work, sabotaging efforts of opponents trying to publish their own work, and threatening editors of journals who didn’t bow to their demands
  • Changed the shape of their own data in materials shown to politicians charged with changing the shape of our world, ‘hiding the decline’ that showed their data could not be trusted.

Even if only half these charges are true, they are activities that would and should have resulted in academic, scientific, and legal censure, and even criminal charges. Imagine having your name identified with such findings. You wouldn’t moralize with other scientists about their inaction.  Bishop Hill provided a comprehensive summary of the emails identifying people and comments. Here is the gang before the lid blew off their nefarious perversion of science (Figure 4).

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Figure 4

This entire debacle illustrates my concern from the start. Scientists like Santer are entitled to their scientific positions and the responsibilities they require. In my opinion, they do not meet those responsibilities. Also, in my opinion, it is an indefensible position, but that is a matter for others to judge. I say that because it is precisely the reason the courts will not participate in scientific disputes. They argue with justification that it is a matter of your ‘paper’ against my ‘paper’ and they are not qualified to judge. However, the entire situation changes when you argue and arrange for your ‘paper’ to be the support for public policy. Now, a completely new set of responsibilities are enjoined, not least of which is the credibility of your ‘paper’ and your actions. Now, it becomes my ‘paper’ against your corrupted ‘paper.’

Santer’s sanctimonious comments clearly demonstrate he is incapable of separating his politics from his science. It is that confusion and misuse of climate for a political agenda that is the real threat of climate change on both sides of the wall.

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